DISA pushes back deadlines on $5.65b in DISN contracts

The Defense Department last week pushed back the bid deadlines
for its three main Defense Information Systems Network buys.


The Defense Information Systems Agency moved the bid deadline for the $400 million DISN
Switched Bandwidth Management contract from Oct. 31 to Nov. 30. Bidders had asked for more
time after DISA released amendments that changed 175 pages of the solicitation.


Teams led by IBM Corp., AT&T Corp., MCI Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp. are
expected to bid for the contract.


DISN pushed back the proposal deadlines for the $5 billion DISN Transmission Services
and $250 million DISN Video Teleconferencing contracts even further. The transmission
services proposals, initially due Nov. 30, now are due March 1. For the videoconferencing
buy, vendors must submit their bids by April 15. Those bids originally were due Dec. 15.


The new delays increased vendor speculation that DISA will not have DISN in place
before the 15-month extension of AT&T Corp.'s Defense Commercial Telecommunications
Network contract expires in the summer of 1997. DCTN now carries most of the Defense
Department's non-mission-critical telephone traffic.


DISA expects to award the first DISN contract, for integration and support services, on
April 1. Known as DISN Support Services-Global, it will be worth up to $2 billion over
nine years and will provide support services for the remaining DISN buys and their
implementation [GCN, Aug. 7, Page 65].


DISA contracting officials said they will stagger the DISN acquisition schedule so that
bidders for the transmission services contract can base pricing on the 34 service delivery
points that will be established by the winning bandwidth management contractor.


The agency released precise coordinates for those locations in its requests for
proposals, but the bandwidth management contractor is free to pick a facility within a
mile of each point. The block, building, floor and room where bandwidth management
switches are can affect the cost of transmissions, DISA officials said.


The March transmission services proposal deadline is limited to technical and
management proposals. Price proposals are not due until Sept. 15, six weeks after the
planned Aug. 1 award of the bandwidth management contract.


Barring delays, DISA plans to award the transmission contract by Oct. 15 and the
teleconferencing contract by Dec. 15, 1996.


With the exception of IBM, the teams pursuing the bandwidth management contract are
expected to bid for the transmission services contract, too.


"By staggering the acquisition process of the three solicitations, a path is
provided to offerors which will allow for [el1] economies to be demonstrated in their
pricing proposals. This path is termed as the "linked bid concept,' " DISA noted
in its response to vendor questions.


Some vendors complained that a telecommunications company winning the bandwidth
contract has an unfair advantage on the later buys in this linked bid scenario.


But DISA contracting officials disagreed and said they anticipate fierce price
competition for the transmission contract, regardless of which company wins the bandwidth
management deal. The requirements for the two contracts do not overlap, DISA officials
noted.


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